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What Is Digital Business Automation? 4 Steps to Implement It

Every organization dreams of a fast-running and smooth business process. However, this requires a team that works behind the scenes to perform repetitive tasks efficiently. It often involves mundane and mediocre tasks that may not directly reflect value but contribute to the larger goal.

Even 40% of employees feel that one-fourth of their work week is wasted on mundane tasks.

So, what’s the solution?

Digital business automation.

Automation affects every aspect of how different departments work. Marketing, accounting, sales, and even business processes leverage automation.

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Digital business automation (DBA) is a transformative force that digitizes complex, manual processes for a faster, more efficient turnaround. The result is business processes operating at peak efficiency.

How does this work?

DBA leverages software tools and advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotic process automation. This may reduce operational costs and rejig traditional workflows. You’ll also see reduced human error, which paves the way for a more efficient future.

Here, you automate individual tasks and connect the dots, streamlining entire processes and freeing up your team’s time to focus on strategic tasks. This is how digital business automation unleashes your team’s true potential.

Benefits of business automation

Every business will have challenges, but there are ways to overcome them. So, if you think your business needs a revamp in processes to eliminate tedious and repetitive tasks while reducing the likelihood of human error, DBA is for you.

At a macro level, expect business automation to offer all the benefits summed up in this graphic.

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Let’s consider an example of automating the prices for your products. If you sell B2B SaaS products online, you might want to offer different prices for different geo locations and markets.

Different markets and user bases would require changing your pricing strategy dynamically. You can also switch between value-based pricing, consumption-based pricing, competitive pricing, etc. 

But which one works best amongst which set of customers? Can you do it all manually?

This is not humanly possible without a significant margin of error.

With DBA, you can unlock faster decision-making processes and remain focused on critical business operations. Decisions about pricing strategies, sales tactics, and even workflow automation can help provide consistency in business operations. 

You will have more structured processes, less siloed data, and a boost in quick decision-making.

Here are some major ways you can use digital business automation.

Minimizes mistakes

Human error is inevitable. But not when you are leveraging digital business automation for repetitive tasks like automated data entry, calculations, and other processes.

Drives innovation

No more mundane tasks that bog down your team. They will have more time and energy to think creatively, solve problems, and drive innovation.

Improves customer experience

DBA can come to the rescue if your customer service teams are stressed and overwhelmed with customer issues. Adopt it to respond quickly to customer inquiries and requests while offering a more personalized customer experience. This comes in the form of automated customer service tools that can handle multiple interactions simultaneously, addressing customer queries promptly.

Unlocks efficiency

Lastly, efficiency results in better profits. So, free your team from creating manual invoices, reports, etc. With digital business automation, they can now automate invoice processes themselves, answer customer inquiries instantly, and generate reports with a click. 

Now that we have covered some key benefits, let’s uncover critical steps to implementing digital business automation.

Steps to implement Digital Business Automation (DBA)

First, spend time on major areas — from knowing your business inside out to pinpointing bottlenecks and even training your team. 

Once you are ready to implement DBA for business, you can choose from a plethora of automation technologies, tools, and models. 

But it doesn’t stop there. 

You’ll also need to integrate these tools into your existing systems. This requires a collaborative effort to bring your team on board, train them to use the new tools, and create a culture that embraces innovation.

Ready to begin?

Let’s explore key steps for DBA implementation.

Step 1: Get to know your business processes inside out

Before automating different processes, you must take stock of what’s happening. Understand how each process works — from customer orders to invoice generation to customer support.

Get into the nitty-gritty while mapping out every step, decision point, and handoff.

Doing this will eventually reveal patterns around the tasks that are repeated as a part of the routine. In turn, this will help identify constant bottlenecks where things get stuck and areas where errors creep in.

This first step provides insights for creating a foundational blueprint for your subsequent automation efforts.

Here’s what you can do:

Gather input from all departments

Have team members from different departments view the processes in depth. Such cross-functional insights ensure you get all critical details, contributing to identifying inefficiencies that might not be obvious.

Use process mapping tools

Visual representation of processes helps spot bottlenecks and redundancies. Use tools like Lucidchart, Microsoft Visio, or even simple flowchart features in Google Drawings to map your processes visually and pinpoint areas for improvement.

Document everything

Document every process, including the persons and teams performing each task, the time they take, and the outcome achieved. Such documentation serves as input when configuring automation solutions.

Consult the experts

Lastly, consult experts responsible for the processes you want to automate. These are the people working every day, and they can give valuable insights. Also, interview employees to get their perspectives on what could be improved to unlock departmental efficiencies.

Step 2: Define automation goals and metrics that matter

Sure, you’ve decided to implement automation for business processes, but for what purpose? 

Think about the outcomes you aim to achieve through automation. These can include bringing down operational costs, enhancing customer satisfaction, or boosting overall productivity. 

These are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) objectives. All such digital business automation goals should also support your overall company objectives to lay a solid foundation.

When implementing DBA, this step should include the following key actions.

Identify key metrics

Gauge the impact of your DBA by tracking the KPIs for each department and how they impact their way of working. There will be marketing automation KPIs, sales automation KPIs, and likewise for other departments such as accounting, HR, etc. These metrics act as a dashboard for your business’ success. 

Here are some key metrics to consider:

  • Reduced processing time: Can you shorten the time it takes to complete a process? Quantify it and gauge how much processing time the implementation of digital automation reduces. 
  • Lower error rates: Were there any errors that caused bottlenecks and efficiency issues in processes? If so, measure the error rates in frequency and cost to the company. Then, DBA should be implemented to catch mistakes before they cause problems and track the decrease in errors after automation.
  • Improved customer satisfaction: Are you tracking metrics that gauge customer satisfaction? For example, net promoter score, number of queries, customer retention, etc., can help analyze customer satisfaction levels. Measure those and see if it has positive changes after automating business processes. For this, surveys or tools for customer feedback can be used to monitor satisfaction levels.
  • Increased productivity: Are your employees able to accomplish more in less time? Check the time-to-output ratio and see if more processes can be completed in less time to measure output and efficiency gains.

Engage stakeholders early

Digital business automation is not an IT project but a business transformation process that needs the involvement of stakeholders. Have them contribute to DBA implementation wherein they come from different departments early on the following matters:

  • Agreement to put up a process 
  • Identifying potential challenges and opportunities you might have missed.
  • Setting realistic goals based on provided feedback on whether your objectives are achievable and aligned with business needs.
  • Creating a sense of ownership to keep them more invested in the project’s success.

Surpassing industry benchmark

Compare your current business results and processes to those of others in your industry. This will help you set realistic targets and measure your progress.

With benchmarking, you identify areas that need improvement to stay competitive and achieve your goals. 

For instance, if your customer satisfaction scores are below industry averages, it’s time to leverage automation to enhance their experience through customer service efforts.

Review and adjust

Set yourself up for monthly, quarterly, half-yearly, and yearly reviews to evaluate the success of automation processes. Regular check-ins gauge whether automation meets the defined success metrics and identify areas requiring adjustments. 

It allows you to stay flexible and responsive to the collected data, which helps refine your approach continually so that the automation efforts stay aligned with dynamic business objectives.

Step 3: Start with a pilot project

Refrain from overwhelming all your departments; start small with a pilot project. This means letting one department experiment with an automation test drive. 

Here, you don’t need to commit to a massive transformation, but start small by picking one process or department where automation remains a good fit.

It can be anything from streamlining invoice processing to automating customer support responses. This pilot project allows you to experiment and learn without risking your entire operation.

Involve the right people and get feedback

Start implementing processes with small teams passionate about automation and willing to embrace change. These could include IT experts, process owners, and even end-users affected by automation. 

These are some methods you should try to get feedback from employees.

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Once implemented, collect information on how automation has transformed their way of working and whether it helps them yield favorable results.

Choose a high-impact area

There are plenty of processes and departments to choose from, so where is the right place to begin the DBA process? 

For this, choose the right process for your pilot to build momentum.

Consider these factors when choosing your starting point:

  • Bottleneck processes: Identify bottleneck areas depending on which department faces the most hurdles and the possibility of leveraging automation to the maximum.
  • Error-prone tasks: Which department performs repetitive tasks prone to human error? Check for this and see if you can automate tasks to reduce mistakes and improve accuracy.
  • Customer-facing processes: Automate processes that directly impact customer experience. Identify departments directly impacting customer experience in terms of faster response times, improved service quality, and increased customer satisfaction.

Go with data-heavy processes 

Lastly, check for processes that involve a lot of data entry or manipulation. Perhaps this department would need automation, especially because Manual data entry is tedious and prone to errors.

So, consider automating these tasks to free your team from mind-numbing work, boost accuracy, and accelerate data processing for faster decision-making. 

You can identify some of the business processes best fitted for automation if — 

  • It shows high volume: Does a process involve processing or entering large data? If so, this shows high-volume data, and automation can be ideal.
  • It Is repetitive: Often, the prime targets for automation are tasks that involve repeatedly entering or transferring the same data types.
  • It meeds data transformation: Business automation can benefit any process that requires complex calculations, a boost in conversion rate, or data manipulation. This can streamline the process and reduce the risk of errors.

Step 4: Train your team for new tools and processes

If you are up for DBA implementation, don’t forget your team who’ll be driving the process. For successful implementation, your team needs to adapt and embrace these changes. 

So now, if you have marketing and sales teams working in tandem, have the former learn more about marketing automation, from email automation to social media automation. 

Similarly, the sales team will pick up aspects of lead segmenting and automated follow-up processes.

All such changes need comprehensive training that educates them on using tools and their benefits. 

This means overcoming resistance to change and hoping your team can use new, advanced processes. A confidence-driven team can better adapt automation tools and use them more effectively.

For training, consider the following:

  • Create training modules: Customize training content to fit different learning styles within the team. Also, ensure these training modules are accessible and understandable for everyone on the team. Include hands-on sessions for employees to practice with the new tools in a controlled environment.
  • Leverage experts: Do you have the right people in your organization who can help here? Think of experts or consultants specializing in the tools you are implementing. If not, have someone from outside come and train your team to help clarify complex features.
  • Provide continuous learning opportunities: Training is not a one-time process. It needs to be constant, where you constantly inform teams of new updates, better tools, more advanced processes, etc. This helps your team stay up-to-date and fully equipped to handle evolving technological landscapes.

Wrapping up

Think of digital business automation as something other than a fad! It is here to stay, and soon, you’ll see your competitors taking over. Just as cashiers at banks are (almost) replaced by machines that count and check counterfeit notes, your business, too, needs an upgrade.

This is not at the expense of employees or human resources. Instead, you’ll have better-trained, highly skilled, and well-equipped people to streamline processes at every step. 

The automation journey may seem like a steep mountain to climb at first. But if you follow the steps we shared here, it can be a great start. This isn’t about flipping a switch overnight. It’s about taking deliberate steps so that your team is buzzing with creative energy. That’s the power of DBA.

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